How Customer Service Helps Market the Hospitality and Catering Sector
July 25, 2018
If you don’t know the value of a smile, then you don’t understand customer service and its contribution to marketing. Customers don’t want to see scowling or negative staff when they visit your establishment and they want a positive response when they phone to make a reservation. Believe it or not when you and answer the phone and smile the customer can hear that smile down the phone line.
Of course, customer service takes more than a smile, but it is a good starting point. What customers want when they visit us is more than food and drink in most cases. They want an experience. Going out for a drink or meal has become more than just a matter of eating for sustenance. It has become a social affair.
So, customers want to not only experience meeting friends, they also want the whole experience to be positive.
How To Improve Customer Service
Positive customer service starts as early as the car park or entrance to your place. An example would be my visit to Gidleigh Park, a Michelin starred hotel and restaurant on the edge of Dartmoor in the U.K. As we approached the large wooden front door it opened as if by magic and we were greeted by the staff who proceeded to take our coats and take us through to the lounge to consider the menu before ordering one of the finest lunches I have ever eaten.
But don’t think that it is only Michelin starred restaurants that can provide exceptional customer service. When I lived in Warwickshire our local gastropub pub excelled at customer service. As we entered the pub the manager would greet my wife and I by name and tell us our usual table was ready. He’d then ask if we’d like a drink in the bar before being seated. If we said yes he would ask if we’d like our usual drinks and then escort us to the bar. Once there he’d tell the barman that Mr and Mrs Drew would like their usual drinks. What was amazing about this was that whoever was serving behind the bar would then produce our usual drinks … and as the bar staff frequently changed (many were young Australians touring Europe) this always seemed like magic.
Of course, it wasn’t magic. The manager kept a good eye on the car park and also knew who had booked tables. Behind the bar was a list of those that had booked and their usual drinks. All the manager had to do was mention our name and the barman could do his magic. It was all about planning and knowing the customers.
In other eating places the staff are trained to remember how regulars like their steak. My local pub knows I like mine very blue and as soon as I say steak they will enquire if I’d like it blue as usual. Again, this isn’t magic but the simple fact they are organised makes customers feel very special.
What would you prefer; the waiting staff come to the table with your first course and give each person in your party exactly what they ordered, or that they appear with assorted starters and ask who ordered the fish cakes etc. My bet is that if you were given the right starter with no fuss you would prefer that. The fact they remembered what you had ordered would make you feel special.
Getting the right dish to everyone is actually very simple. In the same way as each table is numbered you just need to ensure each seat is numbered and each order is tagged with that number.
Other methods can be adopted, for example “Rfcakes no dress” might mean the cover to the right wants fish cakes with no dressing on the salad. M C BEST simply means the male/man has ordered coffee plus bacon, egg, sausage and tomato for breakfast.
Whatever code you decide on make sure all staff understand it. Wowing the customer is now much easier and allows you to smile as well.
The general rule with customer service is to treat everyone as if they are special. Think about how you’d like to be treated and how you would treat a favoured relative. I’ve heard it said that every member of staff should treat each customer as if they are a rich relative that might leave them a large legacy.
What we need to also remember is that if we upset customers or fail to treat them well they will soon find somewhere else to eat of drink. And without customers we have no income, no jobs and no future.
Good customer service is the key to customers becoming repeat customers.
From time to time we all make mistakes, we are only human. Make a mistake with a customer that has been poorly served and we have a problem on our hands. Make a mistake with a customer that feels special and they are much more forgiving. This isn’t an escape clause that says we can make mistakes, we should aim for perfection at all times, but it does demonstrate yet another benefit of good customer service.
And there are more free restaurant marketing tips at http://www.stefandrew.com/stefan-drew/how-to-market-a-restaurant-cafe-or-coffee-shop.html
We have more Hotel and Guest house Marketing Advice here
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